Toby Bass Mods (before/after)

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by nicomortem, May 19, 2014.

  1. nicomortem

    nicomortem SS.org Regular

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    I remember when I was a kid, seeing ads in Guitar World magazine for Tobias basses and reading reviews, and knowing that I would own one some day. This was when I was very young, and hadn't been playing for very long. Once I saw how much a Tobias bass guitar went for at retail, I knew that I would probably never get to own one :( because they are way out of my price range. I originally discovered the Toby line on a thread posted on this forum about how much they suck and how crappy it is that Tobias had sullied their good name by releasing such an inferior product line...but for me, I'm glad that they've extended themselves to a market that includes people like me who cannot afford an American-made instrument. I know it's not a "real" Tobias, even though I have never played one, I could tell that this bass felt "cheap" in the store when I tried it out. But that's ok, because I'm cheap too :shrug: The worst thing about this bass, for me, is that the body is constructed of Pine. It's like they didn't even try! Although pine is light, the bass is neck-heavy because of it. I do find, however, that the shape of the top horn and the placement of the rear strap pin cause the bass to hang in the perfect position when playing with a strap, and the weight of the neck is supported fully without having to hold it up with my fretting hand :D

    I'm glad it at least came with black hardware instead of chrome, I left it all on except for the bridge, which was your standard Fender style bass bridge, which I feel is too much of a vintage design to go on such a modern instrument. I also found the pickups to be quite lacking, which is really sad because I am usually pretty forgiving when it comes to pickups, and most of my guitars still have the stock pickups in them, or a $40 set of Dragonfires or Epiphones if the stock pickups are just too horrible. They have a passive circuit, but there is a bass and treble knob that work by cutting the signal instead of boosting it. I find that by cutting them, adjusting the amplifier eq so that I am happy with the low end and high end, the knobs can be turned up and made to work as though they were the standard bass and treble boost that you would find with an active bass guitar circuit (very cool) and this feature is especially functional with the new pickups that I installed, whereas their performance with the stock pickups left much to be desired. I messed up the finish a little bit around the edge of the neck pickup when I was routing out the pickup cavities to accommodate the slighter larger replacement pups that I was installing. The finish chipped down to the bare wood! :wallbash: I tried the white nail polish trick, and it worked, but the end result wasn't something I was willing to live with, so I went up to Sam Ash and picked up a thumb rest, and used it to cover the chip in the paint. Aesthetically, the thumb rest would've looked better if I had put it closer to the neck, and perfectly parallel with the fingerboard. But I tend to rest my thumb on the neck pickup anyways, and I also wanted to angle it a little bit to let my thumb rest more naturally on it. So it doesn't look great, but it is the best spot to put it for functionality, and it also happens to cover up the damage in the paint as well :) I liked how the bass had no inlays, but I wanted to install inlays on the neck, if anything, because I can. But I didn't like how they looked when I placed them on the fingerboard to see how it looked with inlays, so I opted to just go with two dots at the 12th fret, which I think was a good compromise. So I am happy with it, $199 new, and maybe $100 in new parts, and I have a bass that looks like a Tobias, that I was able to customize and truly make my own, that sounds good and plays nice, for a fraction of the cost of a real Tobias.

    The pickups came from Guitar Fetish, they were around $60 for the pair, I got their "Hot" over-wound pro series Jazz pickups, I went with the ones with pole pieces, I could've gone with the covered versions but I wanted to really make a visible change to the instrument with each part I replaced. I had to guess which one was the bridge and which was the neck pickup, they were not labeled and I do not have a tester yet, luckily I guessed right and they are actually very well-balanced, whereas the stock pickups were not matched at all, I suspect they probabaly both have about the same power and therefore the neck position is way loud and the bridge position is way too quiet. Now they sound matched, and they especially sound good in the center position with both pickups equally blended, and the volume, bass and treble turned all the way up. This was the first time I ever installed bass pickups, and it was a little confusing because the stock pups had 3 wires, the new pups only had 2, plus I had never wired to a blend pot, only to volume pots and selector switches. Luckily, all the connections I made were the proper ones, and the wiring of the pickups was easy and there were no set-backs or do-overs, I got it on the first try this time.

    The bridge was also found on Guitar Fetish, it was $25 and it looks a lot like another manufacturers bridge that goes for several times that price. It still is a much better design than the stock bridge, it weighs more, adjusts more securely, and lets face it the thing looks really cool, and the stock bridge looked out of place on this bass, a bridge with a 60's design on a modern bass guitar. I'm actually really picky when it comes to bridges for guitars and basses, there are a lot of different kinds that I am a fan of, and there are a lot of different kinds that I really just don't like, and the standard fender hard tail bridge and its bass guitar counterpart are on the top of my list of disliked bridges. I feel so much better about the instrument now because of the new bridge, I think it's my favorite part of this project :yesway:

    Here are some pics, including a before/after shot of the main body of work done to the instrument:

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    LiveOVErdrive, JimF and Konfyouzd like this.
  2. ElysianGuitars

    ElysianGuitars SS.org Regular

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    That bridge looks great :yesway:
     
  3. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd Return of the Dread-I

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    I need to add thumb rests to my basses. Just resting on the pickups isn't always comfy... That thing looks nice.
     
  4. REEDT2000

    REEDT2000 SS.org Regular

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    So, found this in a Google search for something unrelated. I know this is a zombie thread, but I had a very similar idea. I've always like the Tobias basses and decided to mod one myself. Here's a before and after pic, the build was documented on TalkBass

    pixlr.jpg
     

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